Friday, January 26, 2007

Why not universal health care?

WASHINGTON - Every American should have health care coverage within six years, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Thursday . . . "I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country," the Illinois senator said.

I wonder what Senator Obama is talking about. Is it universal insurance (”everyone should have coverage”)? Or is it “universal health care”? Who can tell from these confused statements? If Obama knows what he is talking about, why does he sound so mixed up?

Well, I say the time has come for members of Congress to understand that health care and health insurance are different, and then, unambiguously, face up to America’s true needs. And I say it’s time for Congress to take up universal health care.

Do you call an actuary when you are sick or injured? Do people call their insurance agents? Doesn’t everyone call their doctor or go to the emergency room? Yet our so-called leaders do not, or cannot, distinguish between health care and health insurance, and so haven't figured out that insurance is not what we need first - health care is what we need first.

As a result, we are being sold insurance when instead we need to be buying health care.

I say if anything is to be made universal, it should be health care. If our laws made health care universal (and much less expensive), problems of access and affordability would evaporate, as would insurance problems. And of course, once we have universal health care, our life expectancy will go UP and infant mortality will go DOWN.

Health care does not become less expensive when someone subsidizes it. That’s what insurance does. But I’m talking about health care, not insurance. I am suggesting that the nation take the steps necessary to reduce the cost of health care. Is it possible to provide modern health care for substantially less cost? Of course it’s possible. The experience in any number of advanced nations proves it’s possible.


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